Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Marjorie Welish

Marjorie Welish is not just a poet. Most of her work is actually focused on art in a broader sense – as a painter, art critic and historian. Visiting her website I was actually struggling to find any reference to her earlier poetic work at all – and yet the links to the poetry community are showing subtly, not least in the use of Welish’s paintings on the cover of a number of Poetics Journal reprints edited by Lyn Hejinian.
Paul Hoover included 5 of her poems in the anthology, highlighting their meditative character, rhetorical detachment and imagistic complexity. He noted:
“Welish’s poetry avoids conclusiveness and the grand gesture; instead it delights in ambiguity and theoretical difficulty, and finds lyricism there.”
I have to say, I find her poetic work very powerful and I sincerely love her ambiguity. You can find some of her poems online at the EPC.

For my response I tried to focus on the peculiar mixture of ambiguity and meditation. I drew on the philosophical writings of John Rawls – more specifically on the first few sentences of his ground-breaking Theory of Justice. I subjected the original text to a procedure of translation, using online translation tools to translate the text back and forth between English, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Arabic. I was curious to see how the text’s meaning would shift and open up for ambiguity in the process and how different version of the text would interact with the original words by Rawls. The outcome is a political piece (as so often with me), but also a piece concerned with ambiguity and the manifestation of abstract thought in words.


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Within this book, called Justice

the role of justice    the role of the judiciary    the role of the just    judicial role that is truth such as dignity   social services system  that is  justice is the first virtue     of social institutions    as truth is system    the ministry of justice   the ministry of truth     such as dignity     social services system    truth such as dignity    is the system    justice is the first virtue     justice is    as is dignity     the first is the first virtue    is dignity    justice is the virtue    just is the first   is of social institutions     as truth is of systems of thought  

   if you are not real   such economic theories      such as truth    as justice is   but you need to modify     you need to reject       or grace and economy     grace and      economic theory      but grace and economy    must be rejected or modified     if it's not real     if it’s not real     economic theory      must be rejected   must be first modified    but grace and economy such as rejected     or  modified     if it's not real     a theory however elegant     a theory however     a theory however grace and economy     and modified    a theory however    an elegant theory     a theory however elegant and economical must be rejected    or revised if it is untrue     a theory however social services system    a theory however must be elegant   and justice must be the first virtue    must be grace and economy    must be dignity   a theory however elegant must be  if you are not real      you need to reject   dignity however elegant 

     in addition      the legal and institutional mechanisms are effective     and are accurate      likewise laws and institutions    to be honest     regardless      laws and institutions    regardless of how efficient     regardless of how precise arrangements should   to be honest   regardless of the honest      regardless of  revised or abolished mechanisms   similarly    as dignity    should be reformed or abolished if fair    similarly   to be honest must be reformed or abolished    must be abolished   must be precise    to be honest    regardless of how     similarly    must be regardless    the effective and precise mechanisms  should be reformed    should be abolished to be honest    if fair    likewise    no matter    if they are unjust    regardless of how efficient and precise    to be honest    well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust    similarly unjust   must be laws and institutions    similarly unjust   to be honest must be grace and economy       must be revised   regardless of the honest        should be abolished if they are unjust

   each is full     each person possesses     each one built in social justice   even if sanctity of public welfare    even if as a whole cannot override   each is full   each person    inviolable       each person possess   even if sanity    each possess an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override    each is full    inviolable    everyone has a built in community justice even if sanctity of social welfare as a whole cannot override    even if the sanctity    even the public welfare     founded on justice    each is full   each is a person cannot ignore the dignity of public    the dignity of public welfare even if built on social justice    cannot override as a whole   each person possesses    each person is full     each built in social justice    the dignity    the grace and economy    each is full   in the first virtue    in the system    the welfare of    the inviolability of each in every    grace  

     and justice  for this reason   justice    for the loss of freedom    denies for this reason    justice    right by a greater good   grace and economy     for this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some   the freedom    is made right by the greater good shared by others    for this reason   for this justice   in dignity     the freedom of losing some major benefits is corrected one being shared    the justice by others for this reason denies freedom to lose several important advantages is the right shared   is the several important advantages to lose freedom    justice denies for this reason shared by others on the right   

     it does not allow     grace and economy   the first virtue    and dignity     the sacrifices    it does not allow that     few are outweighed by the large sum of many      it does not allow offset sacrifices     you will not be able to compensate    you sacrifice a lot to enjoy advantages of the minority imposed will not be able to compensate    it does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed     it does not allow to be outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many    it does not allow that the sacrifices    you will not be able to compensate    it will not allow     to enjoy advantages     the offset of sacrifice imposed on minorities an advantage enjoyed by many large amount 

   thus in a just society     therefore in a just society of liberties     in the equal    in the citizens freedoms    therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship    in the society of citizens’ freedoms    from a position comparable to civil liberties     in a just society   equal citizenship are taken as settled     on an equal footing is resolved    on an equal   footing will be solved   thus from a position comparable to civil liberties   will be resolved in a fair society

    judicial protection    the right secured by justice are not subject     the rights of non-compromising political or social interests of stones   the rights secured by justice are not subject    they are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest    to the right calculus or social interests of stones     judicial protection of the rights of the uncompromising political and social interest of stones    understanding the political and social relations     the settlement of a stone    the throw of a stone of the right of judicial protection   by justice are not subject to bargaining or the calculus of stones  

   let us only tolerate theory   the only thing that permits us    allow us an error allowed the only thing theory    there is no better one   there is no better one    let us allow only theories    the only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one     the only thing    theory is no better    allow us an error    the only thing theory    there is no better one

    it’s even more    in order to prevent irregularities    only when it is required again    analogously   an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice    similarly   the silence    similarly only when it is necessary   in order to avoid further injustice     the silence on injustices only when it is necessary in order to avoid further    analogously   it’s even more in order to prevent irregularities   on when it is required again   negative silence    even greater injustice   similarly silence injustices    when it is necessary only in order to avoid      similarly  

  human activities    truth and justice    is the first virtue   is relentless    is the first virtue   in truth     human activity is   in truth and justice   is the first virtue   is brutal     human  truth and justice is the first virtue   is human relentlessly    human activity   being first    being first relentless   human activity   is brutal   in truth and justice   is human activity    being first virtues of human activity     being human    being in truth and brutally    truth and justice    is the first virtue   is relentless   being first virtues of human activities truth and justice are uncompromising   that is true

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